By Tracee Ramey
Senior Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison
Have you ever built a home? If so, you’ll know that one of the first steps is to hire a contractor and discuss your wants and needs. That first meeting with your contractor is also a time for you to ask questions and hammer down the vision for your new home. It’s exciting but requires a lot of time and effort, and if you’re a planner like me, you’ll prep before you sit down together.
Just like a newly built home, the foundation of the mentor-mentee relationship is critical to its success. As a mentee, you should be prepared to know your mentor and ask the right questions to help you progress towards your goals.
Mentors can only offer you guidance and support if they know what you’re hoping to accomplish. You wouldn’t expect your contractor to choose the design of your house without your input; similarly, a mentor also needs direction to help you succeed.
There are four basic phases to this first meeting with your mentor. They are the initiation phase, the introductory phase, the planning phase and the follow-up phase.
Before you connect in real time, it’s a good idea to do some preparation. Send your mentor your resume and share a list of your initial career goals. This information will give your mentor an idea of what to expect when you first meet online or in person.
Also, confirm your contact information and how you will meet, so there is no confusion at the last minute. It’s not a bad idea to create an agenda for this first meeting so you can both stay on track.
Take some time to ask your mentor about his or her professional background and academic history. Be sure to ask specific questions that will trigger productive conversation.
This phase is also an opportunity to share more information about yourself with your mentor – make sure to specify what you hope to gain from the relationship. Our Interactive Discussion Guide is a great resource for tracking your progress and recording information so you can easily refer to it later.
After the initial pleasantries with your mentor, it’s time to set expectations. Pencil out some time towards the end of your initial meeting to create a solid plan for communications moving forward. Hash out the small details – how you’ll meet (Zoom, phone or in person), what days work best for a meeting, and how often you’d like to connect. Then, decide on a meeting schedule that works for both of you.
After your meeting, send your mentor a quick “thank you” message to let the mentor know you value his or her time. If you created a list of actionable items during your meeting, work on those tasks so you’re ready for the next session. Finally, be sure to update your agenda so you can make the most of your future meetings.
Mentoring Takes Time and Patience
A successful mentoring relationship takes time to build. Much like a newly constructed home, it requires patience and effort.
Don’t get frustrated if you feel like the mentoring relationship is not progressing quickly enough. Just keep at it, be open and honest, and hold each other accountable. Remember the words of educational expert Erika Oppenheimer: “Without a solid foundation, you’ll have trouble creating anything of value.”
Ready to Get Started?
We look forward to your participation in the ClearPath mentoring program and university directory. We hope the many connections you make there will be helpful in guiding you toward a clear path for your future. If you have any questions about ClearPath mentoring or want additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.